As the Sri Lankan government plans to close the Menik Farm camp, one of the world”s largest refugee camps, located in the country’s northern region, international concerns have grown regarding the conditions of the refugees who will be located to new camp site.
The government said that the 7,400 people remaining in the camp, that accommodated around 300,000 Tamil civilians caught up in the extreme violence of the final months of Sri Lanka”s civil war in 2009, will be relocated to a new site including ‘semi-permanent houses,’ in about two weeks” time.
But Tamil politicians say that they will have to go to areas that are little more than newly cleared jungle, the BBC reports.
The government claimed that it was doing its best to help displaced people, but there has been strong international criticism about conditions in the camp, especially the fact that its inmates were not allowed into or out of it for the first six-and-a-half months of peacetime, the report said.
The number of inhabitants has fallen sharply as people have been returning to their home areas with small grants to try to rebuild their lives.
People who are still in the camp come from the area where the final, and bloodiest, fighting took place, and they are not being allowed home for the foreseeable future.
The government’s move has also angered environmentalists, as the refugees will be housed in a newly established village called Kombavil, in a cleared 600-acre patch of jungle.
When asked why can’t refugees go back to the villages that they originally came from, the government said that it is not possible because those areas are now special economic development areas, uncleared minefields or on land the military wants to keep.